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If you know anything about me you know that I am a big fan of comfort.  Personally, I went from being a jerk (long long ago…I hope) to being really encouraging.  However, I skipped “comforting”.  It wasn’t intentional.  I just didn’t really know about or understand what comfort truly was.  Comfort is one of those things that most people have an understanding of and more often than not they are wrong.  They confuse comfort with support (helping someone do something) or encouragement (verbally motivating somebody to do something or to get past something).

Comfort is simply joining someone in their sadness.  Being there with someone IN their sadness.  Not telling them to not be sad.  Not telling them what is good in their life.  Not giving them a different way to look at their situation.  No, it’s quite difficult yet very simple.  Join them in their sadness.  This accomplishes several things on many different levels.  The first is that it really works and helps…well, comfort them in their time of grief.  Another is that it keeps them from being/feeling alone in their sadness which is a terrible component of being upset.  Clinically it is known as Attachment Theory and is based on shared experiences.  On the one hand it’s relatively new in counseling circles yet has been around for at least 2,000 years.  Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, chapter 12 verse 15″…mourn with those who mourn.”  Practically speaking, it works.  If someone truly is there with you IN your sadness, you will always remember that.  Every time you think of what caused you to be sad, you will remember being comforted by whoever joined you in your sadness.

However, I thought about the other part of Rom 12:15 the other day.  It says to “rejoice with those who rejoice.”  Think about it, we miss on this too.  Someone shares about something good about their day and we take that as an opportunity to; complain about ours, tell them something good about ours, tell them why their good news isn’t all that great, mock them for having “good luck”, etc.  This leaves people feeling alone in their joy.  Alone is alone, whatever the cause…and it stinks.  I don’t know if most people are any good at rejoicing either (though I’d venture to say more people rejoice better than they comfort).  Rachel and I even had someone once come to us after buying a Lexus.  He said that we were the only ones who would be happy for him.  He said that his non-Christian friends would think he was rubbing his good fortune in their face and that his Christian friends would judge him for buying such an expensive car.  He was alone in his rejoicing.  We were more than happy for and with him.

Yet, I thought of a wrinkle to rejoicing the other day.  When trying to deal with “issues” you have today, it is essential to go back to your childhood and share your hurts from then with a trusted loved one now.  You are healing past hurts.  HOWEVER, why not spend some time rejoicing/celebrating great (or even just fond) memories of your childhood.  Wouldn’t that help you on one or two if not many levels?  Imagine sitting around with friends and just sharing in pleasant and happy stories of good times as a child and just being “there” with each other.  What a good thing that would be.

Rachel and I were sitting with another couple the other night.  I shared about cutting my grandfathers grass.  His lawn was roughly 2x the size of my living room and he paid me $20 to cut it.  Mind you, the $20 in 1985 was equal to about $5,000 today (I may be exaggerating).  Afterwards we would sit on his front porch, drink a coke and eat a Lil’ Debbie oatmeal cookie.  Man, it was a simple and great way to spend an hour or two during the summer.  We all just sat there for a minute and this whole “rejoicing the past” thing came to me.  This was definitely something worth doing on a more intentional and/or regular basis.

So, whereas comfort is often overlooked and misunderstood I also feel like there is a lot of room for some good rejoicing together in our world as well.  There is room in our day to day good times to have someone to join us but also in those moments (often or far too rare) from long ago.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.  I hope we do.


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